European Shark Week Spotlights Need to Reform EU Shark Finning Ban

European Shark Week Spotlights Need to Reform EU Shark Finning Ban

The Shark Alliance, a coalition of 75 conservation, scientific and recreational organisations dedicated to conserving sharks, is celebrating the start of the third, annual European Shark Week. Sponsored by the Save Our Seas Foundation, it is using this year’s events to highlight the urgent need to strengthen the EU ban on shark “finning.”

Over the coming week, aquariums, dive groups and conservation organisations in the United Kingdom, Italy, Germany, Malta, Spain, France, Belgium, Sweden, Finland, Poland, the Netherlands, Ireland and Portugal will host events to demonstrate public support for better safeguards for sharks, including a stronger EU ban on “finning” (the wasteful practice of slicing off a shark’s fins and discarding the body at sea).

“The ever-increasing interest in European Shark Week is bringing unprecedented opportunities to raise awareness and concern about sharks,” said Save Our Seas Foundation Director Chris Clarke. “We aim to not only educate people about the sharks’ plight, but to also inspire them to help secure the solutions that now lie within our grasp.”

Central to the week is an effort to get EU citizens to sign a petition urging the Prime Minister of Spain, Europe’s top shark fishing nation, to help close huge loopholes in the EU finning ban.  Spain ranks fourth in the world for shark catch and is a dominant force in the formation of EU shark policies.  The Spanish government has recently taken positive steps to protect some threatened species of sharks, but the nation remains the primary obstacle to an effective EU finning ban.

Sharks and related rays are particularly vulnerable to overfishing because they generally grow slowly, mature late, and produce few young. Most European populations of sharks and rays are overfished; one third are threatened with extinction. Despite these grave statistics, most EU shark and ray fishing remains unregulated and scientific advice for catch limits is rarely heeded. Moreover, the EU finning ban is among the weakest in the world.  An EU Shark Plan, adopted by the European Commission and endorsed by EU Member States earlier this year sets the stage for vast improvements in EU shark policies, including the finning ban.  Follow up action, however, is urgently needed to ensure that the Plan is effective and avoid further damage.

“Europe is a significant player in the global catch, consumption, and trade of sharks and yet has a very poor record for enacting responsible limits on shark fishing,” said Sonja Fordham, Shark Alliance Policy Director. “We are hopeful that the public support expressed through European Shark Week will encourage policy makers to promptly carry out the initiatives of the EU Shark Action Plan and thereby secure a brighter future for these valuable yet vulnerable animals.”

Notes to Editors:

The Shark Alliance was initiated and is coordinated by the Pew Environment Group, the conservation arm of the Pew Charitable Trusts, a non-government organisation that is working to end overfishing in the world's oceans

The Save Our Seas Foundation, European Shark Week's sponsor, is a non-profit organization that establishes and supports scientific research and educational projects focused on the need to protect our world’s oceans. Its initiatives provide key information about the importance of maintaining the delicate ecological balance in marine ecosystems. In particular, SOSF aims to learn more about the role sharks and rays play as top predators and the devastating consequences of removing them from our seas.

Further information or to arrange media interviews:

Mona Samari +44 (0) 7515 828 939